It is time to implement measures against obsolescence

Alte WaschmaschinenClick to enlarge
Die meisten elektronischen Geräte werden immer kürzer genutzt
Source: tournee / Fotolia.com

German Environment Agency calls for improving the durability of products

From fridges to fans – a growing number of consumers replace household goods earlier than they did in the past. The reasons are manifold. Some products simply break down before they reach an optimum technical life span. Others are replaced earlier than technically needed – the technology may have become outdated or a computer is no longer compatible with the newest software. In other cases, consumers part with their perfectly working mobile phones simply because they want the latest model. The German Environment Agency published two studies on the matter of obsolescence and a Scientific Opinion Paper with recommendations for possible legal measures on EU level.

Maria Krautzberger, president of the German Environment Agency: “The German Environment Agency explicitly supports the activities of the EU Commission to promote the reparability, upgradability and durability of products under the Ecodesign Directive. However further legal measures are needed. For example an obligatory commercial guarantee statement: In case a commercial guarantee statement is not supported, we recommend prolonging legal guarantee rights for certain product categories with a usually longer lifetime.” The limitations to measure life time and to execute respective market surveillance need to be respected, therefore beside technical measures which address the product design, it is necessary to strengthen consumer rights.

Furthermore the framework conditions for repair need to be improved. Spare parts, repair instructions and diagnostic software should always be available also to independent repairers and repair initiatives as well as to re-use centers. Last but not least EU Directive on the common system of value added tax allows for reduced VAT rates for certain repair services. This possibility should be extended to more types of repair services, including electric and electronic devices.

The German Environment Agency’s recommendations are being discussed this Tuesday, June 20, in a high level panel discussion in Brussels.